Directions for Completing Vocabulary Word Webs

Directions for Completing Vocabulary Word Webs
Begin by choosing two words that you really want to add to your vocabulary; you will need to
spend time researching these words to complete this assignment. Choose interesting words from
either The Joy Luck Club or from ACTIVE Skills for Reading 3.
For this assignment, follow the model on page 7 of ACTIVE Skills for Reading 3. However, my Word
Web handout also includes places for you to write the sentence from the book and a definition of
the word as it is used in that sentence.
 Collocations are words that are frequently used together. They sound natural together to native
speakers. However, similar words may not combine naturally and could make you sound
nonnative. For example, we say, by the way but not by a way or by that way. Someone can be
amazed by something or amazed at something but not amazed with or from something. Tea can
be described as strong or weak, but not as powerful or feeble. Students do homework, not make
homework. In the classroom, you should raise your hand before you speak, but not lift it. These
expected word partnerships are called collocations.
As you work on making your English as native-like as possible, pay extra attention to the words that
go together with the new vocabulary you learn: learn their collocations!
I have put copies of The BBI Combinatory Dictionary of English: Your guide to collocations and
grammar and COBUILD Dictionary of American English on reserve in the NSCC library. These
dictionaries are good resources for finding collocations for your Word Web assignments. (In the
COBUILD, many collocations are in special boxes called “Word Partnerships.”) You can use these
books in the library for a two-hour period.
However, even in these dictionaries, collocation entries are not given for every word you might
choose. I suggest that you go into the library with several possible words to research and start by
seeing which ones you can find good collocation information about for your Word Web
If you can’t find collocation information anywhere else, the sample sentences in the COBUILD
Dictionary of American English can be helpful. Look for prepositions, adjectives, verbs, or nouns
that seem to go with word you are analyzing. You can also search the word online and look for
repeated combination patterns. Finally, try the online ldoce dictionary link in the box that follows.
 Word Families are groups of words that come from the same root word but have different parts of
speech. For example, happy, happiness, happily, and happier differ grammatically but are related in
meaning. Or how about these: bore, boredom, boring, and bored. Write these different forms and
the abbreviations for their parts of speech as you complete this section of your Word Web.
When you complete the word family section, be sure to include the vocabulary word you are
analyzing and give its part of speech, too.
 Helpful Hint: The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online
often gives collocations in blue font along with an entry.
Word families are sometimes listed in blue at the bottom of the entry.
And here are some other online dictionaries worth trying:
 Synonyms and Antonyms: A thesaurus is the right tool for finding synonyms (same meaning) and
antonyms (opposite meaning); it is a collection of synonyms and antonyms organized like a
dictionary. (Adjectives are often the easiest part of speech to find synonyms and antonyms for.)
You can buy a thesaurus at a bookstore, or you can try an online thesaurus, such as one of these:
*can also look under choose the Thesaurus tab
*scroll down to the Thesaurus box
FINAL WARNING! It is very important to begin by choosing the correct
definition for the word as it is used in the sentence! This will help
you to choose the best synonyms, antonyms, and collocations.